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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Issues concerning housing, real-estate being talked about at weekend expo

Published: Saturday April 19, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM 
Updated: Saturday April 19, 2014 MYT 3:18:13 PM
Costly: A visitor looking at a scale model of an apartment complex at
Sheda Home and Property Expo in Kuching. — ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE / The Star
KUCHING: It seems that what everybody wants to talk about at the Home and Property Expo here is the rising cost of owning a house.

According to organiser Sarawak Housing and Real Estate Developers’ Association (Sheda), property prices grow on average about 5% annually in the state.

However in the last two years, the rate has been “faster than 5%”, noted Sheda secretary general Sim Kian Chiok, citing increased commercial activities as the cause.

“Developers are challenged to build at strategically located areas that are close enough to fast-growing commercial activities,” he said yesterday, adding that higher construction cost and scarcity of land at areas where public infrastructure was already developed, as also major contributing factors.

As such, the property market was becoming a subject “of much hype”, he said.

Sim, who was speaking at the launch of the weekend expo at Boulevard Shopping Complex, then turned his attention to deve-lopers’ profit margins.

Recently, Housing Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg received brickbats from some of those in the private sector for suggesting that some developers were earning “80% to 100%” profits.

Sheda members were quick to deny the accusation in local dailies.

Yesterday, Sim reiterated this at the event.

“With reference to the published news, Sheda wants to stress again that most of our members do not make such enviable profit margins as claimed. Most major developers are public listed companies and they set trends for the industry. Their books are available for perusal by the public.”

Sim said the “blanket statement” was unfair. Instead, he said rising cost of houses was partly the Government’s doing.

He highlighted new amendments to the Housing Developers Ordinance as “putting a squeeze on developers”, adding that severe penalties attached to the new rules had also “forced” them to increase contingency and compliance costs which could affect prices of houses.

“The public should not wait for the implementation and impact of Goods and Services Tax (GST) before deciding to purchase properties.”

Meanwhile, the event’s guest of honour Padawan Municipal Council chairman Lo Khere Chiang said the building of more houses further away from the city centre had occurred mostly in the council’s semi-rural jurisdiction, where land was cheaper.

The new townships of Batu Kawah, Kota Sentosa and Kota Padawan were examples of the trend, he pointed out.

“We constantly hear of house prices rising, correlating with rising demand, (and) with new suburban areas moving further and further away from the city centre,” Lo said.

“Only a few years ago, Kota Samarahan was considered ‘too far away’ but now, it is a valued development area. Padawan’s jurisdiction is another example. It is no longer a periphery.”

The Sheda expo runs here till tomorrow, with roadshows being planned for Sibu, Bintulu and Miri.

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